Sound Off: The Torch’s Picks of Favorite Chicago Restaurants

Having trouble deciding where to eat in the Chicago area? The Torch’s staff has got you covered. Here are our favorite restaurants from the Chicago area. Give them a try and let us know if these restaurant choices were on fire.

The Signature Room by Jules Banks 

The Signature Room, located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building, is a dining experience that both Chicagoans and tourists alike won’t forget anytime soon. The restaurant offers several different options: in the morning, a flavorful all-you-can-eat buffet, and in the evening, a more classic, sit-down dinner experience. Although The Signature Room sways more towards the expensive side, the atmospheric sense that customers are floating through the Chicago sky while every one of their needs is tended to by polite staff makes the spending worth it. 

The Cheesecake Factory by Raneen El-Barbarawi

The Cheesecake Factory, located in the John Hancock Center on Michigan Ave., is an elegant restaurant that offers a variety of different meals/desserts. Whether it is the creamy chicken alfredo or crispy chicken topped with lemon sauce, your senses will surely arise with the dish’s magnificent taste. You also cannot forget their famous cheesecakes. Their cheesecakes are so palatable that even if you’re full of their big meals, you’ll force yourself to get a bite out of it. All in all, it almost seems surreal that a restaurant can perfect at every meal/dessert they offer. 

Le Pain Quotidien by Amanda Landwehr

Le Pain Quotidien is a French bakery/restaurant that serves delicious breakfast platters for all of your brunching needs. Located off Michigan Avenue, this cafe is usually crowded on the weekends and remains a popular spot amongst tourists and locals alike. My favorite menu item is the simple yet mouthwatering breakfast sandwich, which includes an over easy egg, avocado and cheese layered between a fresh croissant. This cafe is not to be missed when brunching around the Chicago area, and remains one of my go-to restaurants in the loop.

Fontano’s Subs by Adnan Bašić

The name of the restaurant may suggest Fontano’s only sells sandwiches, but this shop serves so much more. Located only a block away from Roosevelt University, while also offering 10% off to any college student who shows a school ID, Fontano’s is a great spot to hit up when you have time to eat between classes. Alongside the sandwiches, they also sell pizza by the slice, either original or deep dish. It’s been my go-to spot ever since I started attending Roosevelt as a freshman, and it will continue to be just that until I eventually graduate. 

Jim’s Original by Richard L. Figueroa

A Maxwell Street Polish is like no other. It’s definitely a signature staple of Chicago. It’s simple: you get a bun smeared with mustard, and inside you’ll find a polish sausage topped off with what seems to be a handful of grilled onions. These polishes will satisfy your cravings anytime of the day, as they are open 24/7. There’s no seating at all inside of the restaurant, and customers walk up the window to order their food and pick it up. If you end up at Jim’s after a night out, its because you definitely had a memorable night.

Gold Coast Dogs by Mohammad Samra 

 Located inside Union Station, Gold Coast Dogs is my go-to spot when I need something quick to eat on the train. They serve authentic Chicago-style hot dogs, as well as burgers, chili, chicken wings and more. The smell of grilled meat and the sizzle of patties meeting the grill surround the area around the pop-up restaurant and gets me every time. Sometimes, I find myself spending $20 on various items off the menu of Gold Coast Dogs, even when my bank account is in no position to do so.    

Cafe Luna by Reyna Estrada 

Only a short walk from Roosevelt University, Luna Cafe is my favorite equally affordable and tasty breakfast restaurant. Cafe Luna maintains a simple yet bright decor that creates a welcoming environment akin to a small town diner. The menu features many classic breakfast options, including an array of omelettes, breakfast burritos, pancakes, and French toast. In addition to the delicious food and comfortable atmosphere, the staff is friendly and attentive with fast service and a consistent effort to ensure your cup of coffee remains full. 

Giordano’s by Evi Arthur

A basic choice, no doubt, this restaurant holds a special place in my heart as the first meal I ever ate upon moving to Chicago. Despite the fact that I was a scared 18-year-old moving to the big, bad city alone, something about the hot tray of deep dish pizza made it all much less scary. The cheese pulls are nothing to be missed and make the 45-minute wait worth it.

A carne asada and al pastor taco basket from Paco’s Tacos. Photo by Ayumi Davis.

Paco’s Tacos by Ayumi Davis

Located in West Lawn, this small taco shop is a bit far from downtown Chicago. But, for me, this only makes the tacos more worth it. They’re simple with the toppings, only cilantro and onions, but that’s all you need. Where it’s at, though, is the meat. My go-tos are the al pastor and carnitas. Top them off with some salsa, red for a nice, cool, flavor addition, and green if you want a little bit of kick. Wash it all down with a sweet cup of horchata and you’re good to go. The best part? It’s all under $10. 

ALTHEA by Kristin McKee

Vegans and vegetarians, this one’s for you.  About a year ago, celebrity chef Matthew Kenney introduced the Magnificent Mile to his vision for the future of food on the seventh floor of Saks Fifth Avenue. ALTHEA serves plant-based cuisines that replicate traditional dishes such as lasagna that uses sliced zucchini instead of lasagne pasta. ALTHEA is the perfect restaurant to escape to for a delicate yet palatable dish that embraces whole foods and a view of North Michigan Ave to relish. If you’re feeling up to dessert, the coconut cream pie is a must.

Pequod’s by Santino Torres

The oldest debate for anybody who has lived their lives in the city of Chicago: Who really does take the crown when it comes to this city’s famous deep dish pizza? Pequod’s has the crown, hands down. The secret ingredients for this establishment are fresh, nicely sized ingredients and a caramelized crust that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Pop in from 11 a.m . to 3 p.m. to take advantage of their lunch special, advertised as “the best lunch special in Chicago.” Come to 2207 N Clybourn Ave to see who is king in Chicago’s deep dish pizza game.

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